After the buzz from the upset victory at Jam the Gym faded, it was time to get to work.  If this team was going to make some noise in their section, they had to keep rolling.  The first half had some tests.  Wins over Norwin, Franklin, Hempfield, and Connelsville set up a big home match against Latrobe.  The Wildcats were the defending Section Champions, so any hope of our own title would have to run up Route 30.  The first meeting was at Kiski.  Like so many of the teams that came before Latrobe, much of the focus was on Thad Paunovich, but this was a very deep team.  Senior middle Faye Reid was agile and athletic.  Juniors Nicole Goodeski, Joelle Byford, and Ashley Fowlkes had a solid year under their belts, and Sophmore standout Maddie Antone was a strong addition.  Lindsey Weiser, Steph Matesic, and Ciaira Price were ready to contribute as well.
     The team had built on the good feelings coming out of Jam the Gym, and learned as the first half wound down what their roles would be.  Thad's strong play on the outside gave the middles extra room as teams put their best blockers on him and Faye and Maddie, reaped the benefits.
    Latrobe had the edge in big matches, and lead by some of the strongest players in the WPIAL they handed the Cavaliers their first loss of the season.  The play was good on both sides of the net, but the Wildcats were just too strong, and they weren't ready to give up their spot on top of Section1 AAA.
    The second half had it's share of surprises.  Latrobe lost to Penn Trafford, and Kiski dropped a match to Norwin.  As the season wound down it became clear that the match vs. Latrobe would decide not only playoff position, but if Kiski could catch Latrobe for a share of the section title.
     The people of Latrobe turned out in a big way to support their team.  I have heard it said by proffesional athletes that even a roudy, hostile crowd can lift a visiting team.  That describes what we found entering the Latrobe gym that night.  It was "Ladies Night" in Latrobe, as a way of poking fun at Thad, the entire Wildcat Team wore their brightest pink t shirts, and girl themed music blared from the speakers during warm ups before the match.
    There is also a saying in sport.  "Don't poke a sleeping bear".  This would have been good advise for the Latrobe faithful that night.  Had they not heard the tests this team had already endured?  The Cavaliers were not going to be shaken by these tactics, and in fact would be empowered by them.
With Jaime in the hospital, Ellen fighting through side effects after finishing treatment and Jodie and Dan holding down the fort, they became more determined than ever!
    With most of the rancor focused on Thad, it was time for his teammates to rally for him.  They all took turns doing just that.  Faye Reid controlled the middle much of the night, opening up big swings for both Thad and Nicole Goodeski.  Sophomore Middle Maddie Antone played like a seasoned veteran, and Ashley Fowlkes played spectacular defense and provided Junior Setter Jolene Byford great opportunities to set up the offense.
     As in all great matches, there is ebb and flow, great play after great play.  Peaks and valleys.  This was no different.  The match was so close, and it was going to be a long night, the match was going to a fifth and deciding game.  Even in the microcosm of that 15 point game, there was push and pushback.  In the end, an inspired group of young players from Kiski found just enough courage to overcome a most hostile crowd, their own fears, and the spector of a season of challenge like no other.  When Nicole Goodeski put away the final point of the game, it set off a celebration and release of tension like none I had ever know.  Tears of joy flowed freely, and memories of a lifetime.
I personally will never forget the fight in that gym, that night.  Kiski Area would end up tying Latrobe, for a share of the section championship, and post for the first time in ten years a number on the long ignored banner saluting such accomplishments in the Cavaliers gym.  2010.  The year a team overcame so much.  Ellen's treatments and return to the bench.  Jaime's reoccurrance and hospitalization.  The controversy that followed "The Boy".  It all melted away in joyful tears, if just for a moment.  There were difficult and awful tests yet to come, but for this moment, in a gym bathed in pink, the Cavalier's celebrated with each other!  Only Plum's state championship 25 years before this could rival the feeling of this victory, and with that a mostly faded memory, we rejoiced in this shining moment.